3-Day Full Body Workout Plan for Muscle Growth and Strength

Compared to bodybuilding splits that focus on just one body part at a time, the full-body workout targets all major muscle groups in the same workout. 

That means you will hit your chest, thighs, biceps, triceps, and back all in the same workout. 

You can use this routine to build lean muscle, gain strength, and improve conditioning. 

We’ll focus on a full-body routine designed to pack on muscle and strength in this article.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a total beginner to do full-body workouts. 

In fact, full-body training is perfect for beginners because it involves using big, compound exercises that also target major muscle groups at once, maximizing hypertrophy.

In this article, I’ll show you an example of a 3-day full-body workout split that you can begin immediately.

What Is a Full Body Workout Routine?

Full-body workout routine

Most people in the gym plan their lifting routine based on select parts of the body, like the back, arms, chest, and legs. 

But with full-body training, you train all major muscle groups in the same workout. 

Full-body training saves hours in the gym, and also improves your conditioning because you can train different movements back to back in supersets.

If you looking to get the most out of your training and save time, a full-body workout plan is perfect for you.

In any given workout, you will target these muscles:

  • Chest and shoulders (pectoralis and deltoids)
  • Biceps and triceps
  • Forearms
  • Back (trapezius, latissimus dorsi, and erector spinae muscles)
  • Abs and obliques
  • Quads
  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Calves

In contrast to a bodybuilding split, in a full-body workout, you could pair a pulling movement like a bent-over row, with a pushing movement like the bench press. 

In a bodybuilding split, you focus more on targeting specific muscles, rather than focusing on movements. 

This results in many exercises performed on the same muscle, which often leads to doing unnecessary amounts of volume. 

Full-body workouts focus less on bringing a pump to any individual muscle, although you can do that too. 

They focus primarily on big, compound exercises that are not only more functional but also target many muscle groups at once. 

Because compound movements target so many muscle groups, they require greater input from the central nervous system, which is one reason why they drive greater muscle growth than isolation exercises. 

For example, a bench press is usually included in a chest day. 

But it also trains the triceps and the anterior deltoids (front of your shoulder) well too.

That being said, if you want to maximize muscle hypertrophy, use isolation exercises along with big compound exercises. 

Although you may not blast each muscle as hard each workout with a full-body workout, you will over the course of the week train each muscle more efficiently. 

What Are The Benefits Of Full Body Workouts?

There are many benefits to full body training, but these are the most important ones:

1. Save Time

Many people who want to build muscle mass and strength say they don’t have any time. 

Well, you can’t make this excuse with the total body workout. 

Full-body workouts will cut down your training time in half at the very minimum. 

By pairing different compound movements together in a superset, you will obtain a killer workout in less time. 

I’ll show you how shortly.

2. Conditioning. 

One of the coolest benefits of full-body training is that instead of resting and doing nothing in between sets, you can do another exercise that targets a completely different area. 

For example, you could do a set of deadlifts followed by a set of landmine presses. 

This type of routine places much greater demands on the cardiovascular system. 

You may find yourself sweating, and feeling winded depending on your fitness level very quickly. 

By improving your cardio, your workout routine will get more efficient.

3. Higher Training Frequency. 

Numerous studies show that training the same muscle group more than once a week is more effective than hitting that same muscle really hard just one day a week (1,2). 

Training three times a week was shown to offer the greatest gains in lean muscle mass and strength. 

Each workout is less tiring to the specific muscle group, but you’ll make greater gains because you’ll be fresher each workout and can hit that exercise even harder.

4. Balancing Muscle Groups. 

In a full-body workout, you won’t run the risk of overtraining one specific muscle group. 

By shifting your focus away from isolating muscles to functional movements, you will ensure greater mobility. 

Your posture may also feel better because you’re training both pulling muscles and pushing muscles, balancing your body out.

The Full Body Split

Now it’s time to plan your workout. 

I recommend using a 3-day split to target all the muscle groups in your upper body and lower body in any given week. 

You can modify this to your liking and do a 2-day split or even a 5-day split. 

As mentioned previously, say you want to focus on the chest a bit more one of these days. 

You can add extra triceps exercises on this day since doing bench press followed by tricep extensions has been shown to stimulate the most muscle growth (3). 

So if that’s your goal, you can hit the desired muscle groups hard but still be able to train a different compound exercise later in the week really hard too for the same muscle group.

Most of the exercises below come in supersets. 

With this method, you should focus on having 3-5 minute rest periods after the last set of the super set, and no more than 2 minutes rest between exercises. 

Don’t forget to warm up before your workout too. 

The 3-Day Full-Body Workout Split

  • Monday: Full Body
  • Tuesday: off
  • Wednesday: Full Body
  • Thursday: off
  • Friday: Full Body
  • Saturday: off
  • Sunday: off

Mondays

The following workout involves three supersets. 

Each exercise can be performed with three sets of ten reps, or adjusted to your liking and fitness level. 

Perform one exercise after the other in each superset and rest for a few minutes after the second exercise. 

Repeat two more times to hit three sets.

  • 1a. Bench press
  • 1b. Hanging leg raise
  • 2a. Deadlift
  • 2b. Tricep extensions
  • 3a. Barbell bent-over row
  • 3b. Delt raises

This workout will add slabs of muscle to your back because it combines deadlifts and barbell bent-over rows, and to your lower body, chest, triceps, and shoulders. 

One core workout—the hanging leg raises—is also included to target the abs. With a stronger core, you will have greater stability for pushing and pulling exercises. 

Wednesday

On Wednesdays, you will focus more on the anterior chain (quads) as well as the calves. 

For bigger movements like squats and deadlifts, taking a full rest is ideal if you are focusing on strength. 

Back Squat

  • 2a. Quadricep extensions
  • 2b. Hip thrust
  • 3a. Pull-ups
  • 3b. Step-ups
  • 4a. Dips
  • 4b. Bicep curls

This workout focuses on the quads with the barbell squat, quadricep extensions, and step-ups. 

By including an isolation exercise, the quad extension, after the squat, you maximize strength in the anterior chain. 

On Monday you performed rows but missed pullups. 

That’s why on Wednesday, you not only do pullups but also work on your biceps.

To make sure we don’t forget the shoulders and triceps, we add dips, which target the anterior deltoids and pectoralis muscles. 

They’re a killer!

Friday

On Friday, you shouldn’t push yourself too hard so you’re prepared for Monday. 

This workout is designed to target the whole body without unnecessarily fatiguing the primary movers.

  • 1a. Hyperextensions
  • 1b. Landmine press
  • 2a. Dumbbell flyes
  • 2b. Farmer’s walk
  • 3a. Kettlebell swings
  • 3b. Plank

On Friday you’ll focus a little more on core and conditioning so that you make the most strength gains you can for next week. 

It’s not wise to strength train really hard too many days in a week because full recovery takes up to 14 days. 

So to maximize lean muscle gain, make sure you’re fully rested for each lift. 

Planks, kettlebell swings, and farmer’s walks will improve your conditioning and endurance, without making you needlessly tired for Monday’s deadlift session. 

Take those rest days seriously!

Who Is A Full Body Workout Best For?

Full-body workouts work for anyone, at any age group. 

They simply move exercises around that you would do anyway, to make your workout more efficient, balanced, and strategically posed for maximal gains. 

But for some people, it’s especially advantageous. Let’s explore who full-body workouts are ideal for:

Beginners

The average trainee in the gym will benefit the most from full-body workouts because it removes the need to use cardio machines and is highly efficient. 

It also fulfills the need to improve cardio without machines. 

If you’re new to the gym and are healthy, full-body training will ramp up your fitness and strength very quickly.

Busy people 

Full-body workouts are great for busy people who only have one hour maximal to train in the gym per workout. 

A smart full-body split will get the job done in just 45 minutes or less!

People who prefer full-body training

One of the most important elements in improving fitness, strength, and adding muscle, is consistency. 

If full-body workouts are fun for you, you’re more likely to show up with a smile and complete your workout in good spirits. 

A workout routine is only as good as what you can actually stick to.

For those who want variety

With the full-body workout split, you can substitute exercises to your liking to change things up. 

Variety also helps to stimulate muscle growth and strength. 

If you’re looking to try something new, full-body workouts are fun and challenging. 

Tips for Each Exercise:

Deadlift

Deadlifts are one of the most important exercises you can do to improve back strength and leg strength. 

As a pulling exercise, it’s paired well with upper-body pushing exercises, as shown in your 3-day split workout plan. 

Barbell deadlifts need to be performed with perfect form, because otherwise, you risk injury, especially if the amount of weight is high.

When you perform a deadlift, make sure the bar is above the middle of your feet. 

  1. Place your feet shoulder-width apart, and have one hand over and one hand under on the bar (one hand prone and one hand supine). Lower your hips, keep your arms and elbows straight, and your legs really tight.
  2. As you get used to the exercise you’ll find that sweet spot where you’re bending forward at the hips, and also have the most tension being generated from your posterior chain. 
  3. From there, lift the bar up in a smooth motion, while keeping the bar close to your legs, and lower it down again in the same way. 
  4. Make sure you don’t let the bar come forward from your body at all. This increases the risk of lower back injury, especially with a great amount of weight.

I recommend a set of ten, then eight, then six reps. 

Deadlifts target the hamstrings, glutes, lower back, middle back, and upper back, as well as the wrists and forearms. 

If you’re not yet deadlifting, you’re missing a huge opportunity to develop a huge back!

Bench Press

The bench press is a staple strength and muscle-building exercise for anyone who wants to build a bigger chest. 

The bench press is a compound exercise that targets the pectoralis muscles, the anterior deltoid, and the triceps primarily. 

Dips also target these muscles, so I recommend that you do weighted dips and bench press on separate days to get the best results. 

You can perform a bench press with dumbbells as well as a barbell. 

Although the barbell bench press is the classic strength training exercise, the dumbbell bench press can offer a greater range of motion, helping you hit your chest even harder.

Bent-Over Row

The bent-over row is a great way to improve core strength while training the back. 

It’s easier to perform rows with a machine, but the bent-over row requires your core to tighten in order to stabilize the rowing movement coming from your arms and back, while your feet are on the floor. 

  1. To perform the row, make sure your feet are shoulder-width apart, and that your back is nice and straight. 
  2. Bend your hips to a 30 to 45-degree angle, and make sure you’re stable. 
  3. From there, bring your elbow back until the bar comes close to your chest. 
  4. Carefully lower it back down and perform ten reps.

This exercise is found in Monday’s workout because it adds another pulling exercise on top of the deadlift, to target the back. 

To see the best results in strength gains, perform two complementary exercises that hit the same muscle group each workout. 

Squat

The most important tip for the king of leg exercises is to use a full range of motion. 

When you squat using a full range of motion, you hit the quads, glutes, and hamstrings much harder. 

Each rep you perform will be more efficient and get you closer to your goal.

It’s better to perform fewer reps with good form than perform more reps with a poor form with the squat. 

If you’re trying to isolate muscles, for example, there is a place for using a partial range of motion exercises. 

In general though, for compound exercises, a full range of motion stimulates the most strength and muscle gains. 

To complete a squat properly, aim to have your feet shoulder-width apart or wider, and squat down until your hips go slightly below your knees. 

This is called “below-parallel.” As you gain strength, you will be able to go all the way down which is called “a**-to-grass” or ATG. 

Conclusion

The full-body workout is a trending way to build muscle mass and strength that you have to try. 

Compound movements paired with isolation movements maximize muscle gain. 

You don’t have to train an entire muscle group in one day. 

You can train multiple muscle groups multiple times a week for maximal muscle and strength gain.

Make sure you take adequate rest days and hit those lifts hard!

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References

  1. Krieger JW; Schoenfeld BJ; Ogborn D. “Effects of Resistance Training Frequency on Measures of Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Sports Medicine (Auckland, N.Z.), U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27102172/.
  2. Fonseca RM; Roschel H; Tricoli V; de Souza EO; Wilson JM; Laurentino GC; Aihara AY; de Souza Leão AR; Ugrinowitsch C; “Changes in Exercises Are More Effective than in Loading Schemes to Improve Muscle Strength.” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, U.S. National Library of Medicine. pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24832974/.
  3. Brandão L; de Salles Painelli V; Lasevicius T;Silva-Batista C; Brendon H; Schoenfeld BJ; Aihara AY; Cardoso FN; de Almeida Peres B; Teixeira EL. “Varying the Order of Combinations of Single and Multi-Joint Exercises Differentially Affects Resistance Training Adaptations.” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32149887/.

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